It’s been a mixed year for high-profile adaptations of books, with some high (Hidden Figures) and some very low (The Dark Tower). More and more, television is the place where first-rate adaptations surface. But there are still many book-to-film projects to look forward to. In fact, it seems like the genre is being explored onscreen like never before, with versions of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels being released within months of Jeff VanderMeer’s dystopian Annihilation (first of a proposed trilogy) and Spielberg directing Ready Player One, based on the book by Ernest Cline. Then there’s the umpteen Stephen King adaptations currently in production. Below are the books worth reading as you wait for their Hollywood counterparts to arrive in theaters.
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
Idris Elba and Kate Winslet will star in The Mountain Between Us, set for US release on October 6. The uplifting, tense plot follows two strangers – a writer and a doctor – who are stranded in the wilderness following a plane crash. Their battle to survive unearths their emotional wounds, leading to a love story that will at least make for a foolproof date movie.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The definitive Hercule Poirot novel, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is due for a remake and the forthcoming Kenneth Branagh version looks like an improvement on the 1974 film with Albert Finney and Sean Connery. Other than Branagh (who directs and stars as Poirot), the film features an ensemble cast that includes Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, and Penélope Cruz. Another Christie novel, Crooked House is currently in development as a film starring Glenn Close and Gillian Anderson.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
It was only a matter of time before Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy would attract Hollywood, and Ex Machina director Alex Garland is the perfect talent for the job, beginning with Annihilation in early 2018. The story of an expedition by a group consisting of a biologist, an anthropologist, and a psychologist to explore a quarantined, contaminated landscape, the novel combines Victorian science fiction with an abiding horror that borrows equally from Kafka and H.P. Lovecraft.
The Snow Man by Jo Nesbø
Michael Fassbender will star in the adaptation of Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø’s lurid crime novel The Snow Man, featuring the hunt for a serial killer with a gruesome gimmick and the habit of striking on days of fresh snow. The result is an atmospheric noir with an arresting visual imagination that will most likely look fantastic on-screen. This is probably just the beginning of a rash of Nesbø adaptations, though the trend began in 2011 with the underrated Headhunters.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
James Ivory – of legendary partnership Merchant & Ivory – wrote the screenplay to this adaptation of André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name, which looks absolutely devastating and is likely to rank up major awards. Aciman’s novel concerns the romance between two men of different ages and backgrounds, and the passion and delicacy of the book is sure to be retained by director Luca Guadagino, who is probably best known for directing Tilda Swinton in I Am Love.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is a weird one, as nostalgia-drenched and Spielberg-referencing science fiction novel Ready Player One get the big screen treatment courtesy of none other than Steven Spielberg! There’s certainly a lot of opportunity for visual storytelling in this tale of a teenager who escapes the dystopic realities of life in 2044 by plugging into a digital world called OASIS, in which he is free to wade through pop culture relics of the 1980s. Time will tell whether the film scores points for its numerous ‘Easter eggs’ or if it winds up being a little too on-the-nose.
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
Johnny Depp is slated to star in this remake of the film classic The Invisible Man. It’s hard too be too hopeful given the disastrous reception of The Mummy, which jump-started the Dark Universe that is being continued into remakes of The Bride of Frankenstein and Creature of the Black Lagoon, to name just two. But the solution for Invisible Man is simple: stick to the original novel, which is timeless and jarring in its tale of a scientist-turned invisible terrorist.
The Three Christs of Ypsilanti by Milton Rokeach
On of the more exciting film adaptations currently underway is Three Christs starring Richard Gere and Peter Dinklage, based on the classic book-length 1964 nonfiction piece The Three Christs of Ypsilanti by social scientist Milton Rokeach. The book details three paranoid schizophrenics who share a common delusion: each believes that he is Jesus Christ.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Madeleine L’Engle’s classic YA fantasy A Wrinkle in Time deserves the best and with Disney completing postproduction ahead of its 2018 release, there’s certainly the chance the combined forces of the most powerful studio in the world and Oprah Winfrey (as Mrs. Which) will do justice to L’Engle’s mindbending tale of witches, tesseracts, and giant evil brains.
Ophelia by Lisa Klein
Ophelia imagines Shakespeare’s heroine as the central character of her own drama, with Hamlet reduced to the background. It’s a bold and promising subversion of one of the world’s best-known texts and will certainly give Daisy Ridley a chance to break away from the Star Wars character she’s known for (with the added bonus of Naomi Watts and Clive Owen as Gertrude and Claudius).
Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
As previously mentioned, there’s an insane number of Stephen King movies currently in some stage of the production process following the visibility of both Dark Tower and IT as summer blockbusters. But the most interesting might be Gerald’s Game, which will run on Netflix later this year and star Carla Gugino, who must fight for survival after a playful sex game turns deadly.